In 2017, Iraq and Syria retook almost all of the 100,000km² formerly held by Islamic State (IS). Between the Russian-backed Syrian Army and US-backed coalition forces, IS strongholds were thoroughly bombarded. IS was annihilated, but so were dozens of cities and villages in the process, whilst IS’ slash and burn retreat left oil fields ablaze and infrastructure in tatters.

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and Iraq’s Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi may have successfully fended off IS, but rebuilding in a way that mitigates further instability will arguably prove even tougher particularly given both countries’ ravaged economies. All told, Iraq’s reconstruction bill could reach $100bn. In Syria, including extensive damage outside formerly IS-held territory, estimates put costs around $250-300bn. (CONTINUED - 1067 WORDS)